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Braun's doping stuns pal Rodgers

Sternly denied in past, Packers pivot says

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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said Friday he was shocked and disappointed after his friend Ryan Braun admitted to violating baseball's rules against using performance-enhancing substances.

The Milwaukee Brewers slugger "looked at me in the eye on multiple occasions and repeatedly denied the allegations, said they weren't true," Rodgers recalled before a throng of reporters at his locker after the first practice of training camp. Braun accepted a season-ending 65-game suspension earlier this week.

He and Rodgers are friends, and a Milwaukee restaurant is named after the Wisconsin stars. Rodgers even defended Braun on Twitter last year, saying he would bet his substantial salary his friend was clean.

Rodgers said he was simply "backing up a friend" then, and that they've spoken since Braun's admission.

"Obviously, in hindsight, a more measured approach next time would obviously be a better course of action. People make mistakes. I definitely believe in forgiveness and moving forward," Rodgers said. "Obviously, he has a tough task in front of him moving forward with his career, on and off the field."

Asked about the business relationship and the licensing agreement for the 8-twelve MVP Bar and Grill in Milwaukee, Rodgers said that was yet to be determined.

"As far as the business goes, right now I'm focused on football, and I have people who can help me work with those types of issues," he said.

But the off-the-field questions weren't done for Rodgers, even if it was the first pre-season practice of the year.

Earlier this week, former Packers receiver Greg Jennings -- now the with archrival Minnesota Vikings -- delivered his strongest criticism yet of his ex-quarterback. In an interview with the Star Tribune, he questioned Rodgers' leadership and implied the quarterback had become bigger than the team.

"Don't get me wrong, '12' is a great person," Jennings was quoted as saying, referring to Rodgers. "But when you hear all positives, all positives, all positives all the time, it's hard for you to sit down when one of your teammates says, 'Man, come on, you've got to hold yourself accountable for this.' It's hard for someone to see that now because all they've heard is I'm doing it the right way, I'm perfect. In actuality, we all have flaws."

Rodgers said he wasn't spending energy on Jennings' comments.

"To me, I'm concerned with the opinions of the guys in this locker-room and the guys we have here," Rodgers said. "It's exciting to be able to be one of the leaders of this football team, and I'm very confident in my style."

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 27, 2013 ??65533

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